Wednesday, 2 December 2009


I heard the word "flocculent" at a reading last night and decided to look it up to make sure it means what I think it means. I'm guessing some sort of adjective characterised by the ability to flock?

flocculent adj woolly; flaky; flocculated Chambers, 1998

Okay, and so "flocculated" means?

flocculate vt and vi to collect or mass together in tufts, flakes or cloudy masses
Chambers, 1998

They're both derivatives listed under the main entry for "floccus":

floccus n a tuft of woolly hair; a tuft, esp at the end of a tail; the covering of unfledged birds [From Latin floccus a lock or trifle]
Chambers, 1998

There are some more fantastic derivatives listed there though. My two favourites are:

floccillation n fitful plucking at the bedclothes by a delirious patient
Chambers, 1998

floccinaucinihilipilification n (facetious) setting at little or no value
Chambers, 1998

I keep giggling in the middle of the second one, so instead today I'm going to learn "floccillation" (pronounced flock-sill-ation). I'm imagining a sentence along the lines of "Hastings' description of the poor woman's floccillation meant that Poirot was immediately able to identify the poison used". Of course it's unlikely to come up every day, but then again I do watch an awful lot of Poirot.


  1. Floccinauchinihilipilification was my favourite word as a kid, because it was huge and no one, kid or adult, had heard of it.

  2. And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like floccinaucinihilipilification...

    Or "Poirot".

  3. we bookish boffos used to bully each other with it at school ... 'i floccinaucinihilipilificate your new kicker boots / chopper bike / etc'